Though Joe Nichols has had a fair amount of country chart success, he's had terrible luck with record labels, which has made much of his output spottily available at best. The Early Years
is, rather shockingly, the third time that Nichols' debut album has been released. First issued as Joe Nichols
in 1996 and then as Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other
in 2002, The Early Years
is simply the same ten songs in a new package with a slightly different running order, plus the mild inducement of a bonus DVD featuring the music videos for the album's four singles. The songs are solid post-Alan Jackson
mid-'90s Nashville country with a little more depth than the average hat act of the era, and there are a few minor gems here like the dryly humorous "Wal-Mart Parking Lot" and the fine country-rocker "She Could Care Less." Still, the average Joe Nichols fan has probably bought this album at least once, and he doesn't need it again. Newer fans might be interested, however.